You can't keep a good brand down. The Indian Motorcycle Company is making another comeback with a line of bikes reminiscent of a bygone era.
The latest attempt to bring the well-known Indian name back to life comes courtesy of the born-again Indian Motorcycle Company, headquartered in Kings Mountain, N.C. Indian’s new chieftains, Stephen Julius and his partner Steve Heese, have a proven track record of turning around other heritage brands that have gone under including boat companies Riva and Chris-Craft, giving them a head start on doing the same with Indian.
For 2009 there are four different Indian Chief motorcycle models — the Standard, Deluxe, Roadmaster and Vintage — all powered by the same “Powerplus” 105ci 45-degree V-twin engine. Originally developed by the Gilroy, Calif.-based company that tried and failed to relaunch Indian starting in 1998, the “Bottlecap” engine (so nicknamed for its fluted rocker covers) has been slightly over-bored from its earlier Gilroy guise for a capacity of 1,720cc, up from 1,638cc. For 2010, the Standard model will become the Classic, the Deluxe model is dropped, the Dark Horse and Bomber models are added, and the Vintage model remains.
The chance to spend a hands-on day at the helm of each of the four different versions of the 2009 Indian Chief line came in company with head honcho Stephen Julius for part of the way, as we headed west from Kings Mountain, N.C., into the foothills of the Appalachians. Alternating mostly between the two extremes of the Chief line up (in terms of both price and specification), the single-seat 2009 Standard ($25,999) and the fully loaded Vintage ($35,499), one thing rapidly became clear as my 200-mile riding day unfolded: The new Indian is one of the most comfortable American V-twin cruisers I’ve yet sampled, with a great riding position that’s both relaxing and rewarding, with your legs stretched comfortably forward, yet not too far to sacrifice control, letting you plant your boots on the Indian’s footboards. MC
Order the November/December 2009 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the 2009 Indian Chief, including a road test by Alan Cathcart. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.